Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act
Fact Sheet One:
Purpose of the Act
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) [Chapter 9:23] Act was first
published in the government Gazette on the 3rd of June 2005 (General Notice
227/2005). It was passed by the Parliament of Zimbabwe on 9 December
2004 and was signed into law by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
on 2 June 2005.
Purpose of the Act:
The adoption of the Criminal Law Code by Parliament is a landmark
development in the Criminal Law of Zimbabwe.
This Code brings together under one piece of legislation all the major aspects
of the Criminal Law of Zimbabwe, whilst at the same time effecting a series of
reforms and improvements to the pre-existing Criminal Law. Hence the title of
the Act refers to both the codification and reform of the Criminal Law.
Previously, criminal law in the country was widely dispersed and was
contained under different pieces of legislation. Thus, the Code does not only
bring together pre-existing laws, but also makes a series of changes to the
pre-existing laws. In doing this, it is envisaged that this Code will both improve
the quality of the Zimbabwean Criminal Law and its general accessibility.
In order to bring together all pieces of legislation dealing with criminal law in
the country, the Code incorporates the existing laws without alteration or only
modifies some aspects of the currently existing laws while at the same time
leaving the other laws intact.
For example, the Code makes a series of additions to some sections of the
Public Order Security Act [Chapter 11:17] (POSA), while in other cases, it
simply re-enacts some of the provisions found in POSA. New crimes, notably,
computer crimes are introduced.
The most notable changes effected on POSA is that the Code imposes even
harsher penalties for offenders, especially journalists, who face up to 20 years
in jail for publishing or communicating to any other person "false" information
deemed prejudicial to the state. This is coming at a time when several other
African countries are lifting criminal sanctions against press offences thereby
bringing their laws in line with international standards and norms.

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